Focus on details, the value-added use of materials and the reduction of possible environmental damaged caused by chemical substance emissions. Bigondry in Veneto, specializing in wood drying and heat treatment plants, is determined to continue its growth and innovation in the second half of 2020, showing off its excellent features and skills, including the construction of plants for the thermal modification of wood at very high temperature.
“Thw”, the thermal modification kilns “made in Bigondry”, with a net capacity from four to thirty cubic meters, are a flower in the buttonhole of the company. This range, using a very accurate and sophisticated control system, can execute a wide range of wood treatment processes, from drying to steaming, up to sterilization. Inside the “Thw” cells, wood can be heat-treated up to 250 degrees and also submitted to heat-steaming. The key strengths of this plant are flexibility and high efficiency, delivering wood with enhanced load-bearing properties.
The company is going beyond the “Thw” range to pursue constant innovation with new material treatment processes. In February 2020, just before the lockdown caused by Covid-19 that blocked the entire country, Bigondry had presented the results of their “Styl+wood” research project, a high-temperature wood treatment process that maintains an excellent processability of the material while improving its durability.
Lab tests for project “Styl+wood”, proving Bigondry’s intention to develop their technology further, were carried out at the Uppsala University in Sweden. Such studies, also carried out at Cnr-Ibe (Italian Research Committee, Institute for Bioeconomic Research), with results accessible to all customers who submitted their materials to the thermal modification process using “Thw” machinery, allow to achieve the characterization and certification of Cnr-Ibe, which guarantees the enhanced properties of wood.
As many as nine tree species were tested: Red Spruce, Douglas, Sylvester Pine and Maritime Pine for softwood, Beech, Ash, Poplar, Oak and Tulipier for hardwood. Cnr-Ibe executed physical (density, mass loss, hygroscopic and anti-swelling efficiency, colorimetry, moisture content and fire resistance) and mechanical tests (resistance to compression, cutting and bending, elasticity module and hardness), while the Swedish university tested wood durability and third-party labs carried out material and plant emission tests.
Through targeted tests, Bigondry checked the results of “Styl+wood”, confirming that it represents a progress in wood treatment and makes the material more suitable for construction and indoor/outdoor design applications; as a result of this thermal process, the material is less sensitive to environmental moisture and, despite modifications at fiber- and cell-level, it maintains excellent processability and durability, with no deformation, cracking or other defects, as shown by tests on more than 5 thousand samples.
As to durability and resistance, after being treated, wood has been put in direct contact with wood-eating organisms without suffering any damage. This is a very positive result that expands the application of thermally treated wood to outdoor environments, making it a competitor of chemical materials or other materials undergoing potentially polluting processes.
The tests were not limited to the analysis of thermally modified wood, but also involved the plant itself, with a special focus on possible emissions from the treated materials. For wood, the purpose was to understand if such treatment caused higher emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) compared to non-treated wood, and the results were very positive, as post-treatment emissions were lower than before the treatment. As to plant emissions, the tests analyzed the solid and liquid residues from the treatment and the gaseous residues from the chimney, before and after the filtration system designed and built by Bigondry. The results indicated that bad-smelling substances, such as Furfurale – an organic compound with an acid smell, typical of wood treated at high temperature, potentially toxic and causing allergies as well as skin irritation – can be reduced by 98 percent after going through the steams of the filtration system, while the resins generated by heating (Tar) are almost completely eliminated (more than 99 percent).
The results of Cnr-Ibe and Uppsala University tests on thermally treated wood and the “Thw” plant were very satisfactory for Bigondry, which could measure the progress of its technology, and expand the application spectrum of wood, a more and more cross-functional and eco-sustainable material. Besides improving material properties, from resistance to durability, heat treatment reduces emissions and risks from chemical treatment, while increasing the competitiveness of wood versus other materials that have been more popular so far.
Safety, sustainability, durability and innovation. Four keywords that represent a starting point for the future. For Bigondry and for all of us.